IRIS is a specialist educational consultancy which adopts and adapts the TeachWise Model to capitalise on the creative contribution of Muslims to civil society and education in the UK and Middle East. In particular we aim to facilitate an Islamic renaissance in schools by promoting the enrichment of the four cultures of the West shared with Muslim societies: Artistic culture, Academic culture, Humanist culture and Prophetic culture.
We want to achieve the best of both worlds educationally, working to enhance British tradition from an Islamic perspective and Islamic tradition from a British perspective. To that end we explicitly work within a framework which values:
- the pluralist state of constitutional monarchies
- personal freedom
- grassroots democracy
- patriotic governance
We affirm the voluntary, inclusive and integrative nature of Islam and are opposed to the two extremes that undermine these values in education:
- Political Islam or Islamism which threatens to undermine our liberties by imposing a totalitarian religious solution
- The corporate State which threatens to undermine our liberties by imposing a totalitarian statist solution.
Islamic Renaissance Project was founded by Timothy Saunders PhD, MA, BA, PGCE who has 25 years experience in education and has been Head of 8 schools. He is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and a practising Muslim. Invited to become a Research Fellow at the Cambridge Muslim College the Project was born out of discussions about how British Muslims could be more positive about their own indigenous identity and develop forms of Islam which are rooted in and enrich British culture. In particular Dr Saunders was interested in how there was little conversation between Muslims, philosophical conservatism and classical learning in the British educational tradition. As the director of IRIS Dr Saunders is keen to invite governors, teachers, students and parents to join in this conversation that seeks the best of both worlds in promoting the values and learning dispositions of an integrative worldview.
Islamic Renaissance utilises the ‘Integrative British Values Framework’ conceived by Dr Saunders which encapsulates an educational theory of politics providing clarity about the Ground and Goal of politics on the one hand and the Method and Direction of politics on the other. Its ground is pluralist, its goal personal, its method participatory and its direction patriotic. This ensures that education is not regarded as an extension of politics but esteemed as the foundation and fulfilment of any culture including its political values.
The Integrative British Values Framework
Islamic Renaissance works by using Appreciative Inquiry as a mode of action research seeking to:
1) Discover what’s good about voluntary Islam as a personal quest for beauty, truth, goodness and oneness and how the Artistic, Academic, Humanist and Prophetic cultures of the West are based on these values.
2) Dream how harnessing Islamic spirituality can improve the education of Muslims by promoting these values in SMSC and thinking skills in schools and realising how an Islamic Renaissance is also a renewal and enrichment of British culture.
3) Design practical improvements in collaboration with governing bodies, academy boards, teachers and schools
4) Deliver real change which promotes fundamental British values expressed in excellence of Craftsmanship, Scholarship, Leadership and Mindfulness .
Personal Goal – the principle that the goal of politics is the development of the personal capacity for freedom through liberal learning – Orange British values
Participatory Method – the principle that politics involves consultation and deliberation on short term critical issues and matters of social justice and seeks to bridge the gap between direct and representative democracy – Red British values.
Patriotic Direction – the principle that politics involves consultation and deliberation on long term issues based on a prior and inclusive commitment to the common good and the desire for harmony between people and nature in the past, present and future – Green British values.
Plural Ground – the principle that sovereignty, authority & power are decentralised and depend on a tradition of voluntary assent enshrined in constitutional monarchy – Blue British values